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The world celebrates Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize

Ishiguro’s novels illuminate reality in profound, surprising ways worthy of a Nobel

Gulf News

News of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature going to Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, one of the most exquisite novelists of our time, grabbed global headlines. Hailing the choice, The Guardian called Ishiguro’s works masterpieces of private agonies. Hailing the choice, The Guardian called Ishiguro’s works masterpieces of private agonies. “To explore the geology of our literary times one needs to interrogate layers of thinking before unearthing the stratum of authors’ motivations. Digging into the motives of Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, who has lived in England since he was five, one can divine a number of explanations of why he writes: his fascination with how much of us is shaped by our particular historical moment; his view that he had peaked by his 30s. These two probably explain why Ishiguro’s defining phase is the one that begins with his first two novels that piece together the fragments of a Japan he had known as a child and ends with a masterpiece of private agonies — The Remains of the Day. In parsing themes of class, tradition and duty Ishiguro found a distinct voice.”

The paper added, “His work finds emotional force through self-restraint. In an Ishiguro novel, the words on the page are the tip of the iceberg: so much is happening underneath, usually without the characters’ own knowledge. He never writes the same book twice: his previous novel Never Let Me Go was about clones slowly coming to grips with the fact they have been created as organ donors: a philosophical investigation into mortality and meaning. Ishiguro’s novels illuminate reality in profound, surprising ways worthy of a Nobel.”

Highlighting the novelist’s consistent and variegated motifs, The Financial Times noted, “Pictured alongside other rising literary stars in Granta magazine’s 1983 “Best of Young British Novelists” issue, Kazuo Ishiguro did not draw the eye. Martin Amis and Ian McEwan were well-known accumulators of column inches; Salman Rushdie, also included in the volume, had already won the Booker Prize for Midnight’s Children. Yet Ishiguro was to be unusually consistent. Now, as the 62-year-old British author celebrates winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, it is hard to escape the feeling that he has proved the most prominent and enduring of a feted literary generation. From the politesse of his Booker-winning The Remains of the Day to the dreamlike Mitteleuropa of The Unconsoled, Ishiguro’s work is marked by variety and constant movement, a fact underlined by Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, in an award citation that invoked Jane Austen, Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust. Yet Danius also touched on an underlying thematic unity: ‘He is someone who is very interested in understanding the past ... he is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society.’”

The New Yorker wrote that Ishiguro’s brilliant prose contained an imperturbable purity. “You can see how his work shares similarities with another British laureate, William Golding: both writers have been drawn to allegory, and to historical fiction and fantastical exploration (Ishiguro’s most recent novel, The Buried Giant, is set in sixth- or seventh-century Britain; Golding’s The Inheritors is about a Neanderthal family); and both writers have practised a kind of brilliantly imperturbable purity — they have supremely done their own kind of thing, calmly undeterred by literary fashion, the demands of the market, or the intermittent incomprehension of critics. Never Let Me Go (2005), is one of the central novels of our age, in part because Ishiguro perfectly mixes realism and dystopian fantasy to produce an allegory of deep and lingering power.”

Praising the novelist’s selection as an inspired choice, The Indian Express remarked, “An immigrant writer, who arrived in Britain at the age of five, after his family migrated from Japan, Ishiguro’s story reminds us how the world is one, minus boundaries. Last year, all six of America’s Nobel laureates were immigrants, which says a lot in the current political environment.”